Soldiers use arson and bombings as collective punishment after meeting with armed resistance 

The junta has repeatedly targeted villages and civilians in conflict areas in acts of collective punishment after meeting with armed resistance over the past week, witnesses of such attacks across the country have told Myanmar Now.   

Following battles with ethnic armed groups and People’s Defence Forces (PDFs), junta troops have shelled villages and burned homes.

Last week soldiers shelled Seng Hpra village in Kachin’s Hpakant Township, injuring six residents, following a battle nearby with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). 

Three days later, junta officials summoned administrators from Seng Hpra and several other nearby villages to give them a message, a local from Hpakant told Myanmar Now. 

If residents didn’t inform the military when the KIA entered their villages, their homes would be burned down, the officials told them.

“They blamed us for not notifying them about the KIA coming,” the local said. “They threatened to burn our villages down if another battle happened. I’m pretty sure they’re fully capable of doing so. They’ve done it so many times in the past.”

Last month junta forces burned down the village of Kinma in Magway Region after meeting with local resistance fighters there. 

On Monday, soldiers shelled two other villages in Hpakant, although there had been no clashes with the KIA in the area at the time. 

In Sagaing Region on Sunday, junta soldiers met with PDF fighters in the villages of Tettu and Palaing in Shwebo Township. Locals, armed only with simple hunting rifles, were forced to retreat. After they did, soldiers set fire to houses in Palaing and the nearby village of Kan Thar.

“The house that got burned down also had their two tractors, a rice mill and a barn that also burned down,” said a resident of Tettu village, referring to the arson attack in Palaing. “The family lost millions of kyats. The military deliberately chose that house.” 

Soldiers also shelled Kan Thar village, and a monk from Palaing reportedly died of a heart attack during the shelling. 

The night before the clashes on Sunday, soldiers raided the nearby village of Seikkhun and shot and killed four civilians who were on night guard duty. 

In Karen State last week, the Karen National Union’s (KNU) Brigades 1 and 5 clashed with junta forces in Hpapun and killed ten soldiers. In response, the junta burned down five houses in the nearby village of Kuseik, according to a statement from Brigade 5.

The military also shelled the village of Baikkar, which sits in territory under control of Brigade 1, injuring five locals. The shelling was a response by the military to an assault by an unknown armed group, Brigade 1 said in a statement. 

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